KP gets two ministers, an adviser in federal cabinet

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PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa got a share of two ministers and one advisor in the 21-member federal cabinet announced Saturday by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government.

The province was the first in the country in 2013 general election to repose trust in Imran Khan by voting heavily for the PTI and facilitating the formation of its provincial government. It gave a heavier mandate in the 2018 polls compared to 2013 when the PTI was voted to power with more than two-thirds seats in the provincial assembly.

The PTI-led federal coalition government has already nominated Asad Qaiser from KP as the Speaker of the National Assembly. It is the first time that someone from the province has become Speaker of the National Assembly. Asad Qaiser had earlier served as Speaker of the KP Assembly from 2013-2018.

The two federal ministers from KP announced on Saturday are Pervez Khattak as defence minister and Pir Noorul Haq Qadri as minister of religious affairs.

Muhammad Shehzad Arbab, the former chief secretary of KP who retired from service as federal secretary for SAFRON, was named by the PTI government as advisor on establishment division. He has been advising Imran Khan on a number of issues in recent months and was head of the cell that produced the 100 days targets for the PTI government. Though he was transferred out of KP as chief secretary and sent to the federal government after developing differences with the then chief minister Pervez Khattak during the PTI rule in the province, Shehzad Arbab has remained in Imran Khan’s good books.

Pervez Khattak, the former chief minister of KP belonging to Nowshera district, was being mentioned as the likely interior minister, but he has been given the less important defence ministry portfolio. The defence ministers in Pakistan usually are figureheads. There were reports that Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to keep the interior ministry with himself owing to the fact that there were more than one aspirant for the portfolio. Imran Khan may eventually hand over interior ministry to someone else, but for the time-being he would also look after the interior ministry.

It was learnt that Imran Khan had persuaded Pervez Khattak after a lot of effort to shift to the centre and join the federal cabinet. Pervez Khattak was keen to remain the chief minister of KP after the PTI’s huge victory in the recent election, but Imran Khan wanted someone new and younger to run KP in line with the PTI’s vision and manifesto.

Pir Noorul Haq Qadri belonging to the Khyber tribal district is a recent entrant in the PTI. He has remained an MNA twice in the past after winning election in 2002 and 2008. After the 2008 polls, he joined the cabinet as a minister of state. He won past elections as an independent candidate, but this time contested on the PTI ticket and won. He defeated former MNA, Shahjee Gul Afridi.

It is possible that KP would get a minister or two in the federal cabinet in case it is expanded in future.

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